The Bigger Picture: The City in the Global Village


A Culture of Democracy

We have got ourselves into a fine mess over what it means to be British, what it means to live in a multicultural society, immigration, and what to do about itinerant off-the-wall fundamentalist mullahs bewitching the minds of young British Muslims. What is to be done!

All the heart-rending stuff about our late lamented national identity is all unnecessary. A decade ago when I was teaching courses on nationalism I used to start the course by asking students to chose their national identity from a list on the board: British, English, Scottish, Welsh, Irish, Other. Older students invariably chose their ethnic nationality: English, Welsh, etc. Younger students would choose British but with reluctance; they seemed to think it was rather distasteful to be asked to choose such a disreputable thing as a national identity. In one seminar group this was in marked contrast to an Irish student who, despite an international baccalaureate education, was very proud of her Irish nationality to a degree which puzzled her British peers.

Today there is a greater sense of English national identity as a direct response to the rise of Scottish nationalism and the creation of devolved government in Scotland, and in particular because of the campaign against the perceived abuse of the Union flag by supporters of the England national football team. As a result, the flag of St George has never been more popular. But don't expect much to happen on April 23 (St George's Day) unless you hold a football tournament.